Review of 'Katz's Delicatessen'

I think it is fair to say that “Katz's Deli” is an institution. For more than a century it has been providing New Yorkers with some of the best deli sandwiches in the world and it shows no sign of slowing down. A part of American culture like baseball, Katz's appears in modern cultural references (including the notorious scene from “When Harry Met Sally” when Sally fakes an orgasm at one of the tables here - the table is clearly marked if you are interested) and has been visited by many famous people. But, after all this, what is it like to visit?


Katz's is a bit of a walk from the nearest subway station in the Lower East Village but is hard to miss with it's massive signs on the corner of East Houston Street and Ludlow Street. Entering you pass through a turnstile and are handed a ticket that you have to keep on you at all times as this is what you use to order with and it will be required before you are allowed to leave. Presenting the ticket on your exit you are then required to pay.


If you want to sit, there is table service along the left of the large, but not massive, interior with seats for those that wish to get the food themselves along the middle. The “cutters” are located along the right - take your pick and order from them with the menu shown high on the wall behind.


All of the walls here are crammed with pictures of famous people and bits of emphemera which are fun to wander around a look at.


We visited on a Thursday evening the place was hopping with all tables full and many coming for takeout only. We chose to take the easy approach, being shown to a table along the wall then a short time later presented with the laminated menu. Though there are a lot of different sections (“All Day Breakfast”, “Soups”, “Salad Platters”, “Beverages”, “Starters, Salads and Sides”, “Specialty Drinks”, “Desserts”, “Noshes”, “Grill Favourites” for kids it says, “All Day Specials”, “Traditional Favourites” then the right is dominated by the real reason everyone comes: “Hot Sandwiches”, “Cold Sandwiches”, “Half Sandwiches” and “Sandwich Extras”) there are really not that many different dishes on offer here with, of course, the showpiece being their meats. They do, however, provide the traditional staples of any good deli with a good assortment of Jewish items such as Potato Latkes and Matzo Ball Soup.


To accompany our meal a plate of sour pickles (not dill) were provided soon after we ordered. This included some non-pickled veggies as well and set us up nicely for the meal to follow.


My companion started with a “Tossed Green Salad” ($7.45) which was absolutely enormous but had a good variety of vegetables and, wonderfully, not dominated by lettuce. The salad came with a small serving of dressing that was quite strong (so she only used a small amount).

Pastrami On Rye

I ordered the “Katz's Pastrami” hot sandwich (top of the right side of menu; $22.95; “Smoked to juicy perfection and hand carved to your specifications (ask for Mayo at your own peril)”) which was exactly as it said: Two slices of (wonderful) rye bread with a stack of meat between. No dressing, no nothing. The meat was deliciously juicy and tender, going down very, very easily. The flavour was quite gentle but delicious nonetheless.

Corned Beef

My companion went for the second on the right side menu the “Katz's Corned Beef” hot sandwich ($21.95 for a full sandwich, but she ordered only a half; “Our secret 'dry cure' pickling formula requires a full month to be ready to serve. The secret to finishing one is to pace yourself.). It was absolutely delicious and full of flavour with tender meat. After her salad the half sandwich was a good choice since it was quite filling. We both added their in-house mustard to our sandwiches which was really good, not too hot but hot enough!

Happy Eater

It was not a cheap meal by any means (and note that tips are not included) but the food was top notch and the atmosphere really fun to take in. The service was quite relaxed and we never felt hurried to move on, in fact, we often had to flag the waiter down ourselves rather than him bugging us all the time. If you want to grab a quick meal, this is possible with the “do it yourself” option which appears to work quite well but if you want to slow down and take it all in, go for the table service.

Since 1888


Rating: “Nearly perfect, but not quite”

Review Date: 2020-02-27

Cuisine: American/British

Address: 205 East Houston Street (corner of Ludlow St) New York City, 10002 USA

Public Transport: NYCSUB East Broadway

Location: New York (USA) - Lower East Side



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Telephone: +1 (212) 254-2246